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Pantser Special: Using Story Structure Models to Write a Synopsis (& Tighten Your Plot)

14 Jan

Not long ago, while editing my novel, it occurred to me that eventually, I’ll be expected to provide a synopsis of my story whenever I do get around to submitting to agents. (The horror!) As someone who started this ginormous project as a bonafide pantser after failing to produce a likable manuscript going the outlining route, well, the idea of writing a synopsis seemed like a big fat joke…until I realized it really wasn’t.

Without a coherent, logical structure, my story would be DOA.

So…when a YouTuber I follow named Shaelin Bishop posted a video about a 15 Beat Plot Structure this week, I decided to tune in and watch. Perhaps, I reasoned, I could learn something useful.

Boy, did I ever!

Now, I’ve read articles about all sorts of story structures in the past—some more detailed than others—but this “15 Beat” one just seemed to really “click” for me. Maybe because I already had my story pretty much figured out this time around; maybe because it’s actually meant for the visual medium of movies, which I tend to see more than I read, and I’m a very visual person. Anyhow, while listening to Shaelin explain it, I was nodding my head along, mentally listing the ways my story already seemed to align with the plot progressions she was explaining.

Phew! What a relief. I guess, without really thinking about it as “creating a plot structure,” that’s exactly what I’ve been doing all along!

Well, this came as a great relief to the-pantser-that-is-me. Maybe, I thought to myself, I should actually try being organized for once and write down this plot of mine now—y’know, just to make sure I’m telling a coherent story. (It certainly is an easier way to examine plot without the multitude of details of worldbuilding and dialogue and what have you getting in the way.) Within a half an hour of drafting my story structure in Word, I realized that this whole little exercise could actually help me tighten my plot.

It could also, potentially, become the starting point for my synopsis! Continue reading

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